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Show HN: I built an After Effects for dummies (storycreatorapp.com)
868 points by michaelaubry on Aug 4, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 291 comments


dude you really out did yourself. usually i criticize people because their product homepage doesn't tell nor show anything about their product so i'm confused about what it does and how to use it.


your homepage not only tells me exactly what this does, but shows me to the point where i'm excited to use it. good on you. others should learn from you.

my one thing that i noticed (and this could be a revenue generator for you) is the lack of templates currently. the more templates you have for us noob video editors, the better. not only that, but allowing the community to contribute and/or sell their template would be a HUGE win for you.

This means a lot. I have spent some time getting it down. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears haha.

I agree with the templates. I am trying to allocate my time wisely and I think expanding that will be major.

I am drawing up a way to make it even easier for people to create amazing videos.

When you click "add new video" I plan to make it interactive and guide you along every step.

Your options will be

Do you want to create a video

- from scratch - from a template - for your podcast - for your product - for your brand

Based on the selection I will walk the user through an simple experience. Have them upload their assets, select a vibe, enter some information, etc. Then generate the video data and put it on the timeline.

I am doing sales, customer support, engineering, and design. So once I can get some runway I will be able to roll it out.

To be honest I hate sales and marketing. I just want to build, and if I can get to ramen profit. Then I can pay people to do what I hate.

Make it easy to create /r/highqualitygifs style memes and it will probably market itself!

So it is pretty intuitive to use. But when I tried to export, it asked for sign up. So I signed up and I was taken to the dashboard where I couldn't find the story I was working on till then. :(

Interesting. I think I know why. I did a huge migration and forgot to test that step.

Thanks for reminding me. Sorry that happened. Happy to give you a month for free if you can see yourself becoming a user.

> I agree with the templates. I am trying to allocate my time wisely and I think expanding that will be major.

Maybe worth trying out some "Create and share templates in your free plan, earn upgrades to 3 months worth of Pro plan when 5 other users create with your templates!" kind of crowd sourcing and network effect thing?

Are the people creating templates interested in this product, though? If I was a creator, I'd rather want to sell a premium template and get a percentage of each sale – or if they were included for free in the premium plan, then a kickback from the premium plan sales.

Love this idea.

Two questions based on that last sentence:

1. Are you going to do the sales grind until you find a CEO and sales team who can do that for you?

2. Would you be comfortable in a CTO role, letting a CEO handle the non-technical but knowing they could very well be determining what you should focus on strategically?

Yes if it is needed and makes sense for the company to thrive I am not married to any set way.

I do have a vision for this product and it would have to be the right fit.

I keep an open mind though.

I'm curious, did you use some kind of library for the little thumbnail videos under "Try a Template" or code it yourself?

So I re-used some code from inside the app.

I built the ability to grab and scroll inside the timeline. Then I converted it to a re-usable component.

I'd be open to open sourcing it.

I eagerly await an open source release. Fantastic work!

man.. huge respect. you did an amazing job here. i have build products almost on my own and know the pain. i know exactly what you mean by blood, sweat and tears :). good luck. hope it takes off well.

100% his landing page feels like a breath of fresh air comparing to other landing pages mess

Thank you :)

Have to agree with above.

Had an issue with sign up via Google, but I got past that and really quickly I was able to build a video!

It's really enjoyable to use. Well done!

...You may have also picked the absolute perfect time to put a product out like this. We're all mostly stuck at home, coming up with great ideas that we want to communicate.

I hope it takes off.

Watch this space!


Sometimes that Google button can be a weirdo. What was the issue? Was it disabled for a moment?

There is something happening internally within the button component. I think it's looking for something inside the cookies. Not entirely sure.

Glad it worked out though.

A dialog came up with a 'time is passing' kind of icon. I got asked if I gave permission, I did and then it disappeared and I wasn't logged in after that. Had to go through the 'Sign Up' path. I got there, but the Google sign up would be easier I think.

Yeah, I can't think of anything i'd need a video for, but still made one just to see if it works as well as the intro makes it look. And it really does work that well!

One small issue and a small feature request, tho:

- Undo of resizing images should restore it to the size that it was before you started dragging, currently it restores it to a lot of sizes during dragging.

- It would be great if you could switch between different kinds of text effects without having to remove the entire effect and re-enter your text.

[EDIT: found some more small bugs]

- Copy & paste hex colors for text doesn't work b/c it will paste the text element instead

- One time the download link for the video didn't work, it just closed the modal and i had to render it again. Worked fine the next time

All in all very well done! Will definitely be spreading the word about this one!

I quit my job over a year ago. Been bootstrapped on savings. I picked up a gig last year and only made $30K in 2019.

Hoping my efforts pay off.

Unsolicited suggestion.

Hit up Courtland at Indie Hackers. He has a podcast and your story would be a perfect fit.

Should help drive some traffic your way as well

Love Indie Hackers.

I wonder how many guests get featured on there from cold outreach. It would be worth a shot. I enjoy being a guest on podcasts.

Check out the IH articles/interviews with veed.io , definitely a market for this type of product

Nice job! It looks like a ton of effort. What's the tech stack for something like this? All homegrown? I've wanted to mess around with screencast editing but programmatic video stuff in general seems daunting.

Yes it's daunting. You have to love it to be able to get through the hard times.

I am using React.js to build the UI and manage state.

Using FFMPEG and a combination of other rendering techniques on the backend.

Shout outs to

Vercel AWS React team

FFMPEG is super powerful. Michael, do you take screenshots on a headless browser and stitch them using FFMPEG? At least, that's what I have done for a hobby project.


It took me awhile to understand how the I/O streams worked, and the complex filters worked, but once you get it there is a lot of power in your hand.

Yeah I did that initially but then I found a better technique. There are some pieces using that method and it's a fantastic approach until you reach 30 fps over the course of a 10 min video.

Do you mind sharing what the technique is?

Awesome. React is my jam, hit me up if you need anything.

Nice. Hit me up on Twitter and lets talk @michaelaubry

I'd love to hear more about your backend structure. Would you mind going into a bit more detail on it?

I signed up. This is immediately useful and totally worth the cost. Loving the easy video captioning.

Hell yeah!!

Amazing work man! This looks and feels great!

Dropped it on producthunt, hope you get some boost there!

I think it really sucks when someone suddenly puts your product on producthunt before you're ready. You only get one chance there so please please producthunt hunters, think about reaching out to creators BEFORE you do this....

Holy shit this is awesome. Wow thank you!

Can I buy you a coffee or lunch? Hit me up on Twitter @michaelaubry that is very thoughtful of you :)

All good man, added you as a maker, accept the invite and promote it! It deserves to be seen more! :)

Also what does dropped it on PH mean?

It means your product is hunted, so you can join in as the maker and share it. The more people upvote it, the more visibility it gets on the front page of producthunt. It was a really popular startup launching ground before, now it's just meh, but can still get some nice leads :)

I’m sure it will. How long did you spend working in this before the first release?

(Is this the first release)

This is certainly the first time I've broadcasted it to a larger audience.

Back in April I started cold calling (IG DMs) and got a paying customer. Been working with them closely and I tend to enjoy product more than marketing.

Now I am just saying screw it let's ship and if things break oh well. It's not like I am launching a rocket into space.

I don't even need to make videos but this is so polished I'd like to try it out anyway, great work.

haha thanks for the kind words

This looks very polished. Good work, man.


Blood, time, sweat, and a lot of tears. Your words mean a lot to me, just to hear this after 10 months of grind is a happy feeling.

I am ready to get back to work though. The grind don't stop, just getting started.

Best of luck, I hope it pays off.

Thanks :)

How many people do you have on your team?

Mowgli and I https://storycreatorapp.com/about

I have a loving girlfriend Rachael and another dog Millie. They're extremely supportive.

I am looking to expand the team. Working on getting some angels on the team to put in some capital. So that I can hire people more talented and smarter.

Looks awesome! BTW, the 'About' page has a missing image (I'm assuming it's you).

I think there is an issue on mobile. Should work on desktop. I think the CSS doesnt have a height set or something.

I don't see it on desktop, which means I don't get to see Mowgli and I'm pretty disappointed about that.

Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_15_6) AppleWebKit/605.1.15 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/13.1.2 Safari/605.1.15

Have no fear Twitter is here. https://twitter.com/michaelaubry/status/1288516866617405441/...

This is when he got rice all over his nose haha. Carbs are important for engineering focus.

I'm on desktop.

This is awesome. Hats off to you.

But... "After Effects for dummies" is selling it short. This is a web based video editor! After seeing Figma do it's thing, I was waiting for someone to do it for videos. We're nearing the point where you can do 100% of your work in the web. Keep up the good work!


Thanks for for the support :)

This is insane. The home page is super clear and the product itself is very slick to use. Good job on defining the right vision on the product and prioritizing the exact set of features to launch with to solve the specific niche problem space (podcast/video promotors on instagram). You seem to have a good handle on feature creep.

I love it. It's funny because I think I spent way too much time on this relative to the advice I was getting.

If I didn't have great people in my life then I would be stuck on a never ending feature rabbit hole.

When I start my next company I plan to have more balance between MVP, user interviews, pre sales, business metrics, market research, etc.

This venture was purely intuition and a major desire to build this :)

The great thing is I love building this product.

tbf, I don't think it's possible to make a 'simple' but valuable video editing app, especially with one person. But I think you made the simplest video editing app that does provide value to a specific market of people. (entrepeneurs and podcasters, who, I might add, are willing to open their wallets easier than the average consumer.) I know this because at first I couldn't find a way to add new layers. But then I realised that for these people, you don't really need multiple video layers. They just want to slap on a progress bar, add a title, and export. To me that showed restraint in the right areas and a good understanding of your customer.

You seem to have an exceptional talent on UI/UX design, development, and marketing. As someone who is trying to do everything himself, and basically do what you just did, I've bookmarked this as inspiration.

Thanks man. Always happy to chat if you would like to do that. Hit me up!

Dude this is fantastic. Also you really need to charge more. Start by doubling the prices for all the plans. It's easily worth it and people will pay.

I completely agree. I'd love to pay for this on a per-seat basis. $50-100/mo/seat seems about right here.

I also don't know if including storage in the pricing is helpful. It might make more sense to represent that in time. If this is being sold to users too inexperienced to use AE, then the idea of bitrates and pixel resolutions probably will be foreign to them. But time is something everyone knows and can easily reason about.

You might also experiment with completely removing that restriction. Storage is cheap and hosting video isn't really a huge value add. The features and functionality are the real selling point, so price on those things and the real value you offer to users.

This is a really great point.

First you are right, pricing will go up. As I add more assets (animated text 100+, templates 100+, progress bars and other elements 100+) I will raise the price. Early adopters will be grandfathered in for life.

I think adjusting the pricing based on your feed is very appropriate, makes a lot of sense and its giving me a lot of ideas.

You might be careful about increasing price too much - some of the professional tools are not that expensive per month, and this is definitely aimed at a casual to prosumer level.

However, to increase revenue capture, charging for templates or other assets could make up for it.

Swapping in a temporary trial plan instead of a free plan and using a low cost plan for the occasional casual user will probably keep your support costs lower too - free users can eat up a lot of your time/money, and also tend to be more negative about the product than paying customers.

Maybe the more expensive plans get more templates for free, and the cheaper plan is more a la carte.

Great job and congratulations on this release. This is a good market to be in and I can already see uses for this in my own budget product promo videos.

I’d be cautious increasing the price. It’s not an enterprise product and you’d be weakening your case as an After Effects alternative.

In fact - if you can scale easily - you might be better off lowering the price and going for those that can’t afford / can’t be bothered to learn After Effects.

Make it something that an average 16 year old can afford, and you’ll create a loyal customer base.

Like that you may be able to make more money selling template bundles and stuff as add-ons, as that’s an audience used to paying for skins and similar while gaming.

Yeah doing up sells is another good approach.

I've considered doing a one time fee with up sells. Pricing is not entirely fixed. Still working out what the market wants and what the company will need to survive over the years.

Ill need to run the numbers and possibly bring on some advisors. This model does make a lot of sense to me.

> It’s not an enterprise product

It absolutely should be. This has a lot more value to large social media teams who have to iterate on content daily to test conversion than it does to just an individual who wants to make nice posts for their side hustle.

It's not clear to me what the "x videos" limitation is on the pricing page. You should clear that up. Is that a number of video exports per month? Per week? Or a number of stored projects at all time?

umm... are all these people pushing to increase price serious?

I know you want to encourage, but After Effects is "only" $20/mth.

I think pricing works in mysterious ways. There are a lot of variables.

- what is the market willing to pay - does this solve the core problem - how much is this problem worth (hint time is the most valuable thing in the world)

I don't think it should be more expensive than adobe products at all. My goal is to make it cost efficient for most folks who don't have large budgets. However here are a few points.

- hiring someone could cost a non adobe user $800 for 2-3 videos (this is way more than an adobe product because you are paying for time and skill) - assets and templates depending on usage can easily cost $100 for a few videos on envato (this also enables non creative users to create professional looking content which solves the problem above). - if users can move faster and can iterate faster then they make more money (this applies to serious users who know what they're doing and agencies with a higher budget)

Just some of my thoughts. There is no magic bullet for pricing but I think the number one rule I have found with pricing is that it's relative. If Tiffany & co can sell a $1.5k paper clip https://www.popbuzz.com/internet/viral/tiffany-everyday-obje... then pricing is really what you make of it.

There are variables and you have to know what your target audience is willing to pay. My idea on pricing is that I want to 10x your investment. So if I am charging $20 per month. I want you making at least $200 from the service.

If you're an agency making $10,000 from the service I am going to charge $1k

Targeting the $10-15 price range per month for the lower tiers is ideal. This would basically sit just under adobe's costs, but there wouldn't be the time investment of learning their tools, and the user doesn't need a beefy computer. There's also a good possibility that a small chunk of potential customers may only be using a phone.

Keep things reasonably priced and allow your user base to grow. There is a huge market for the casual user.


I have considered a one time fee with upgrades.

Don't. No matter how many people vocally moan about subscriptions (myself included), the fact is if you are actually creating value for users then people will pay them.

One time fees lead to bloated software, most of the money is in making upgrade versions and forcing users to pay again, which means there is a huge financial incentive to constantly add features that sound cool whether or not users actually use them.

For pricing IMO your starting sweet spot will be around $10/month. There's a benefit in charging something and getting people signed up with their card details. At some point in the future you may find it beneficial to charge $5/m to get more users through the door and make money through extras. Just my 2 cents.

How many people know how to use AfterEffects or can spend time learning it? Its not this app vs After Effects. Its this vs hiring someone who knows to use After Effects.

Or this vs spending time learning to use a professional video editing tool

There's two kinds of users here, users who don't want to pay $20/m but have time (e.g. students) and users who have little time to learn AE but more money. They want to capture both. So the approach is to make the starting price appropriate for group A and then find something that group B wants and upsell it to them.

> pushing to increase price serious?

I agree. I'm puzzled why this is getting so much excitement, it's hardly in the ballpark of "After Effects".

Let's see your product that you've coded?

I spent years learning to code. Dropped everything to live in a car in Silicon Valley so I didn't have to work at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.

I then worked my way up to a $200k salary. Quit that to pursue being an entrepreneur.

Last year I made $20k and risked it all for this.

Thanks for your time and energy checking it out though. I'm looking forward to your version and if you have a role then I will gladly come work for you.


Don't get defensive dude, it's obnoxious. All he said is it's not in the ballpark as a product that has hundreds of developers and over a quarter of a century of development effort.

To be fair, the comment he was responding to didn't have any value. All it basically said was "I don't understand why people like this", which, in my opinion, is a lot more obnoxious than the response.

People who create and put things out into the world deal with these sort of comments all the time. I think it's fair to be critical of them.

Calm down buddy, this is your show HN, try to take the high road, also dropping your salary is not the classiest thing to do.

It's completely fair to compare your product to its competitors (especially one you referenced in your post title) when discussing the pricing scheme you landed on.

Yikes, someone's got a chip on their shoulder :)

You're in your emotions whereas you should be making calculated moves to increase your chances of success, off of free exposure you're getting here on HackerNews.

Your project looks really nice, it is nowhere close to the feature set AfterEffects offers and that's a fact - it has nothing to do with you as a person or your journey.

Furthermore, your project is not competing with AfterEffects, it is competing with Fiverr or not bothering with adding 'effects' to videos at all.

I'm curious and would like to understand it a little bit better:

You had a well paying job which would allowed you, in only 5-10 years to basically buy a house for half a million and then retire with the other half million.

What motivated you to build an Online Service?

What are your thoughts on your competitors? Like i do like your product from a first view perspective, butwhen i google 'online video editor' i do find a lot of alternative products.

Are there any long term plans when you would say you made it or where you would pull the plug?

I'd be able to live with the failure knowing I took my best shot at being an entrepreneur. Opposed to living a somewhat comfortable life not trying at all.

It's been a burning desire of mine. I truly fear regretting not doing this. If it fails, I am happy to try again.

I am ok with making $20k per year for the rest of my life if it means every year I can wake up shooting my shot to build something useful to others.

In regards to competition I am not afraid in the slightest. I do not fear others, they are just flesh and blood like I am.

That said I am reasonable when someone has a certain position, the good thing about space and time is that with proper course correction you too can find your own position. With correct defensibility you can own a certain position for as long as you have a good stance.

Video has been around since the first animators drew images in a flip book. It's not going anywhere. I believe there are gaps and this game is not zero sum.

I will continue to expand my knowledge on physics, computers, marketing, engineering, human/consumer psychology. I will continue to build relationships and find ways to leave people better than I found them. These are my principles and in these principles I feel confident.

Congrats on making the sacrifice to build something, and then following through to releasing this first public version. You will likely do quite well.

I would suggest, if I may, that you are going to get a lot of people dismissing your product, both now and in the future. If this is your first time being in the seat of both the creator and the public face for something you've worked so hard for, it's going to feel uncomfortable, and you will want to be defensive about their comments -- it won't seem justified that someone could make what feels like a low-effort, flippant comment about something you put so much time into.

In general it will be better to let it slide. They were not going to be your customers anyway. Lots of people will misunderstand who your target customer is. Power-users will say "why would I use this?" Or people who don't need any videos will say "there is no market for this." It doesn't matter, so long as people who are your target market see the value in it.

But more importantly, focusing on dismissive comments will take a psychological toll on you. You'll be sitting at dinner and feel angry about the jerk on the forum who said your work had no value. You've done great work, and letting those comments gnaw on you may make you doubt yourself, or think less of what you've built.

It's OK that not everyone sees the value in your product, nor should they: it just means you intelligently defined who you're going after. And that's great.

It'll take some practice and time to not feel the sting of negative comments, and the desire to argue with them -- to prove them wrong. See if you can be aware of your own emotions about them, and why they make you feel the way they do. As you do, you'll become fairly immune to it, and it'll help you truly enjoy the fruits of your entrepreneurial labor. This is a normal experience a lot of people go through.

Congrats again on a fantastic release, and for the dedication to give up so much to make this happen.

I would love to hear from you in 1-3 years again to see how your journey continues;

Its always interesting to see that a lot of people see things different :)

What? $200 year salary will have tax on it. Thats not your take home, then you also have to eat, live, pay rent for your current place.

Sure it will but if you earn already 200k a year, your potential includes an increase over the next 5 years;

And sure thats probably slightly easy calculated but personally for me, living 5 years very frugual and then buying a house and then doing another 5 years and then stop working, is very reasonable when you have a salary like that.

The first 5 Years might mean saving a lot, but then you own a house. Payed, mortgage free; Very low base costs.

Depending on how big that house is, you are now able to invest even more longterm: Solar Power for example to keep your utility costs very low.

but..but... can you reverse a linked list? JK! Hope all of your sacrifices paid off!

But your time isn't. What this product does is saves time, which ultimately saves money. The proof will be how many agencies and marketers this appeals to.

When you can charge a mid-sized e-commerce company $2500 a month for social media output, $99/mo is nothing.

Exactly it's all relative. It's bound to value, users are looking to get an ROI but if they have insane budgets etc then it's really just relative to the audience and the perceived value.

Or let people bring their own s3 and pay for the storage and bandwidth themselves. With video bandwidth and storage can kill your cost structure really fast.

Also consider lowering expectations for support. The current pricing won’t absorb many high maintenance customers abusing your support line.

This product will most likely also sell with a higher price, but for an initial launch I would recommend keeping prices low.

What you want is to learn if your product is something people are willing to pay for. Once that is established, you can tune the pricing to increase the revenue.

True. Thanks for the feedback

I was excited to see at least some AE features in the browser or more-than-beginner type editing -- but it's more akin to iMovie or a basic templated editor? Impressive nevertheless for one person to bootstrap, congrats.

I came to say the same thing. If you're going to compare yourself to AE, then you better bring some heavy hitting features. The iMovie comparison is exactly what I was thinking. It's a FisherPrice "baby's first NLE". That sounds a lot harsher than I mean for it to be, but it is apropos.

People that have never used an editor and wants to get into it, then this very well may be an amazing option for them. For $32/mo though, that's a big ask. For $50/mo you can have access to the full Adobe suite, and this is but a fraction of that.

I wish you well, and it definitely looks like you've spent a lot of hard work on this. Just don't try to compare yourself to something you're clearly not trying to be.

PS: that's the royal you, not directing at the parent

You can't just compare it by saying "$50/mo gets you the full Adobe Suite" -- there's a hidden cost there. Yes, you get access to the full Adobe Suite of software, but there's a huge learning curve that comes with that and dozens (hundreds?) of hours of learning required to get good.

This tool seems pretty much effortless to learn and use. There's intrinsic value in that.

This is $32/mth for fewer features than iMovie - which isn't exactly a difficult tool to learn. And is also free. And works on your phone/tablet with no separate content upload step.

This reminds me of those canned Flash and js animation sites from 10-15 years ago - where people who couldn't learn ActionScript or js would pay $$$$$ for a basic text explode or image carousel.

It's a perfectly viable business model, but it is rather literally aiming at the Dummies part of the market.

The best part of this is the marketing and the site design, not the actual product.

I might take that for granted, as I've been using Adobe software since Photoshop was installed from 20+ 3.5" floppies. However, because of the popularity of the Adobe Suite, you can find plenty of videos on how to do things to flatten the curve (of learning). Like everything else though, some people will naturally take to it like fish in water, or they will struggle with it.

--A fool and his money are soon parted.

Bingo, right now, I use Kapwing for basic video editing, very easy to do the basics and the results are good enough for what I need.

No way I'd spend the time to come up to speed with Adobe to do the same things.

Fair enough

Fair enough.

I needed to get an MVP out and start figuring out ways to make money before I completely go into debt.

My goals for the future are to give more customization to the motion graphics and to feature some of the core elements a professional in hurry will need. Nothing too complex but just right.

You can also think of it being a mix with other types of video editing tools. I do plan to roll out keyframe animations when I get some cashflow. I am excited for that.

I would consider pinging a yc partner with this page—you’ve definitely got the chops and have a great product on your hands. Think a lot of folks would be up to take a chance on you.

Makes sense if vc is not up your alley, but IMO its all win at least until seed

Thanks that means a lot. I've always felt like an underdog, I feel like there is bias at YC and I am ok with that. It keeps me hungry.

You are probably familiar with crello and canva. Alot of companies use these tools.

If your tool would have keyframes and a bezier editor (like cubic-bezier.com) I would instantly migrate to your tool.

I guess for some customers stock footage is also important - but there you could just partner up with istock etc.

Other things I would hope to see in such a SaaS for marketing motion graphics is: - Motion Blur - gradient with multiple points - basic css styles (dropshadow etc)

In the pricing section I see there's a limit on videos. Is this a monthly limit or total limit. For example, free tier says 5 videos, is that 5 per month?

This is per month.

I am still experimenting with the pricing and do have paying customers.

I find the average user needs anywhere between 5 videos a month to 10. These are serious users who are consistent with their posting and are making a return.

Those who are learning and new to the content game can get a few videos rendered per month to see if it's for them.

Agencies are a different persona though and they would most likely need more than 10.

I was confused too. I recommend updating the text to be more clear. Congrats on a slick looking product.

Thanks for the support. For sure I got you :)

Looks pretty awesome.

Minor nit: hitting backspace to delete a clip (pretty common in editing apps) forces the browser to go back.

You might also want to catch other types 'leave page' events and ask for confirmation so that the user doesn't lose their work accidentally.

Thanks for catching that. Hot keys have been a pain. I also found an issue with copy pasting inside text boxes.

I promised myself and my startup friends I wouldn't touch code until I handled doing marketing and sales.

It's on the backlog now, thanks for letting me know. This feedback goes along way :)

Mousetrap is the best shortcut library I’ve used, and can help you do this well, catching a bunch of edge cases

e.keyUp...c'mon man, don't need a whole library

Don't really need a lib.

Things to consider. If the textbox is active then you need to respect the native key commands for the textbox.

You have the ability to cmd + c & cmd + v to copy & paste objects in the editor. So you need to most likely prevent the event key from propagating upwards inside keyUp within the textbox.

So you aren't wrong it's just one more thing to consider amongst the million other things.

I have a backlog and will knock these out all in one day easily :)

You’d be surprised — for ex: where do you listen for that event? Something has to be in focus — most kb implementations rely on this and fail.

Also, trim music gave an error for me too. Do you have a place to drop bug reports?

Yeah. I think this is a known bug. Most likely if you dont move the trimmer or try and trim the whole clip messes up the FFMPEG command.

Hasnt effected paying users yet, so it's lower priority, but will be addressed soon.

I am thinking about improving that UX. Instead of immediately prompting the user to trim. This will be in the toolbar as a "tool". So if you want to trim a podcast episode you can, that is the main use case, so it might make the most sense this way.

I slapped this in quickly because I was targeted podcasters for the first few customers and this was a critical tool to have.

Top work mate, looks great.

I had a question about your work ethic on this project. Did you treat like a full time job Mon-Fri 9-5 or more like College project with frequent all-nighters? How did you sustain the motivation to keep going even through the rough patches as a solo developer?

Would love to read blog post about your journey through this.

Kudos! You have to admire anyone for executing on a launch this well as a solo dev. SaaS products targeting the more casual professional have a huge potential to grow right now.

IMO the killer feature will be the seamless import/export of content from phones to Web UI to social media account. Any platform allowing a frictionless experience in this regard will open the market to the much broader audience, which I think you're well branded for.

I'd love to hear more about your experience building the rendering stack with ffmpeg - and whether or not you recommend using it.

Instagram makes it super difficult to post on the platform. If you're a partner then I think it's possible.

It's something I would like to do. If anyone knows folks inside Instagram connect me Ill ship it.

I am trying to have an agnostic approach and focused on leaving things in the cloud as much as possible without too much extra upload/download time.

I showed this to a youtuber friend with 4m subscribers. His first response was "looks easier than our current workflow, but we upload in 4K currently and the demo maxes out at 720p".

To be fair, he probably uses After Effects way more than the average expected subscriber, so this isn't a representative sample.

This is legit feedback if you’re targeting this segment. I have relatives in the YT content “industry”, and they’re (inordinately?) obsessed with uploading content at the highest quality YT will allow. If something isn’t pumping out 4K, it doesn’t pass their smell test, for better or worse. So, if you allow 4K exports, I’d advertise it loudly! :)

This is really impressive, and a great example of the modern web put to productive use. I especially liked how you could start messing around with the demo without having a registration prompt (you only need that when exporting, which I think is perfectly reasonable).

I wish you the best of luck with your venture!

Thanks I just added that. I think it's good to give users the ability to see what's its all about before committing.

I’ve been a happy paying https://clipchamp.com/ User for sometime but will have to give this a try.

Congrats Michael.

People underestimate how hard it is to build and ship. So massive kudos to you on your new product.

Not a rocket ship but not a baloney sandwich either haha.

I have vaguely heard of them. Cool name. Id love to learn your use case, pain points, and what I need to do as a product creator to make a significantly better product.

If you're interested I would like to get inside your brain. Hit me up on Twitter @michaelaubry or email michael@storycreatorapp . com

Congrats! This looks amazing!

If you don’t mind me asking, how did you decide to commit to complex app like this? It must’ve taken a long time to build the MVP. Did you interview potential customers before hand or just went I with your gut or your own pain points? How did you know people will be willing to pay for this, considering there are a lot of similar tools out there?

I made a lot of rookie mistakes and I am ok with that. It was purely a gut feeling.

I am genuinely interested in video. I have been fascinated by it since a kid. So I knew I wanted to solve this problem.

I also love design tools and a good challenge. So I went against the grain and followed my gut. It brought a lot of pain and useful learnings. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Next time I will know what not to do. Always talk to the market and implement the MOM test. Do follow your gut but do mix that with conversations.

Are you me? This exactly describes my current experience.

You should write more about this!

I love your landing page. My gut says you will be able to carve out a niche in the editing software market by empowering influencers to edit on their own. Do you have a monetization strategy in mind?

This is an extremely impressive product. Signed up a couple weeks ago, it's spectacular.

Hell yes. You're a smart man.

Had the same thought that something like this should exist every time I've found myself having to waste an afternoon putting social content together for someone. But obviously didn't care enough to go any make it myself.

Great work, you'll be on to a winner here if you nail the workflow. I'd say you really have to focus on building it as a tool for larger social media teams to bash out iterations when driving conversions little creators is fine but the real money will be in that and you can charge a lot more for it.

You know what Figma has done for templating/design systems within a team with it's strong internal asset libraries. Things like that for social media teams to work from the same sheet on assets are going to be key.

Turn "We need to try a different copy line" from a 40 minute job to a 2 minute job and companies will pay.

Fantastic landing page - I feel like I got a quick understanding of what the offering was and how it could help me.

Nice. That's good. I feel like I can continue to improve.

Things I am focused on are making it easy to find the type of content the user wants to create and sending the user down the path to success in the least amount of steps possible.

I think the messaging is always a work in progress. I am glad it makes sense and is clear.

Who do you think this tool is for?

Honestly, one of the best products I've seen this year.

And probably the most complimentary HN comment section I have ever seen.

This is what HN was like in the early years -- a (much) smaller community of people making things, sharing them, and rooting each other on.

I love it. How has it changed? I am not on here often. I am glad I could bring that back :)

Two things that drive product value & growth insanely:

    1. Dogfooding your own product
    2. A free-tier pricing that actually helps one-time users
You nailed both of them. Congrats on the launch. Using it right away. :)

What is dogfooding?

Dogfooding: eating your own food. Is refer to the practice of using you own product as your main service, being your own customer. As example, there's a story where every Android (OS) developer where given basic Android phone with low RAM as their main device, they where aiming to decrease the resources the OS required and using the phone by the developers allowed them to experience first hand what low income/cheap phone owners felt IRL, thus allowing them to better focus on improving the product on real pain points experienced by themselves

I am a big fan of Wave Video Maker which looks similar, at a glance. I will take a look at this. Congrats and good luck.

Any major differentiators from https://offeo.com?

Never heard of them. Just checked out the site, it looks awesome.

Are you a user?

First of all, hats off to an amazing product: very nicely polished, marketed, and packaged.

However, and I'm sure you know this much better than I do, this seems like a niche-of-a-niche type of product, no? YouTube already has some rudimentary video editing capabilities, Vimeo has a pretty nice video editor, and there's (quite literally) dozens of others. Can you even compete in this landscape? I feel that why After Effects/Vegas Video still exist is exactly because they're pretty hardcore tools.

Great points.

I believe so. I don't think it's a zero sum game and competition is great.

I have a vision for this product and my main goal is to overload the user with value and an amazing product.

I want to have a marketplace and be the go to spot for the best templates (not overly cookie cutter, all beautiful designs), everything needs to be well designed and have a premium feel.

I also plan to roll out features other players don't have - they have been copying me for a minute.

So I am not going to reveal them all but just know my goal is to bridge the gap between power and ease of use. Mix that with premium assets, a market place, and the user always in mind as a priority. I think I'll have a fighting chance.

This is an awesome looking product, I think it will really take off for small shops that want to be able to quickly put out content. Nice work, wishing you the very best!

Yeah thats the goal. Let me know if you know anyone who can find value. Always happy to have a conversation.

Looks great! Question regarding the features. Do I need to record my videos using something else or can I do the actual recording using your product?

HAHA no one has asked me this.

I have this built out and hooked up to S3 I disabled it as I thought users wouldnt want it.

In the early days. I would use the webcam, record me talking. Then caption it on the spot, add some letterbox text and publish to my Instagram story.

I might have to reveal it and bring it back. This is of course if people want it and it solves a pain point worth paying for.

This sounds interesting. My use case for a SAAS video editing product would be to do some video screen captures, then edit them together, then add voiceover, subtitles etc (are interactive hotspots on your roadmap?) to get a half-decent final cut I could add to my site or share on YouTube.

Also: excellent website. I wish you much fortune in your endeavour!

Yeah from my perspective the fewer tools the better. If I could record and edit in the same place I'd like that.

This is so cool! Some specific thoughts

- My finger slipped and it wheecht me out of the editor before I'd finished editing the video - maybe it could prompt me to confirm if I want to leave the editor/save my work if I've made changes?

- Is it possible to disable the browser right click/context menu on the timeline? I expected to get some additional options but got the browser context menu instead

So cool! Well done

Great point. I do an auto save every 3 seconds, but yes if you go back before then it's game over haha.

I will check to see if it's possible to disable that I remember this being a hard thing to do on another project I was working on.

Ill look into it again :) worst case I'll see if I can trigger a save function on a back event.

I'd love to have a custom context menu. What options would you expect to find?

Ah awesome. Yes I see now that it's autosaved, I didn't realise that when I ended up on the homepage :) It's easy to swipe left accidentally on the MacBook trackpad and end up on the previous page.

Re. context menu, I think I just expected to be able to copy and paste the element there. I suppose most people are used to desktop video editors where you can right click and copy a clip

I think the focus on speed and bundled content is important. These are the two biggest weaknesses of After Effects today imo.

Yes bundled content is a big pain point of mine. My biggest pain points with After Effects.

1. When I want to create a creative video I typically look on Envato for inspiration. Then I pay $30 to Envato on top of the $270 a year for After Effects. Then I have to learn how to install the template or asset. I wanted a marketplace and library integrated with the tool.

2. I also want the After Effects experience to be like Figma , Canva, or Sketch for making videos quickly. I don't want to fiddle with too many knobs and counter intuitive tools. While they are powerful and After Effects will always be GOAT. Its too much sometimes, especially in a world of speed and iteration.

For the four letter acronym clueless (FLAC? ;) like me...

GOAT = greatest of all time


HAHA I love it. Thanks for clarifying

Envato!? :) Try us https://motionarray.com

Motion Array is great. I followed some of your video tutorials. Lets talk.

This is really cool, love the niche this fits into — and for other future founders, there's a lot of low hanging Adobe apps which could follow this path: Audition? Acrobat?

One thing I would suggest: increase your prices, at least at the top end. $83/month for the Business plan is way too cheap. At least put an extra zero on there.

Good points.

Im always on the side of charging more where it makes sense. Still learning the market.

I am doing B2B integrations where they get access to the tool embedded in their product and an S3 link sent to their system for $20k annual.

This breaks down to $1.6 monthly.

Don’t be afraid of really jacking up prices. We once had an enterprise customer who turned out to only need our self-serve $80/mo package to start. He told us to add at least one zero to that because $80 was too small for him to expense. That customer is now paying over $20k/mo as they’ve grown on our platform.

Geeze thats amazing. See it's all relative. I need to find a customer like that.

You're so right though money is a mindset. You get what value you can reasonably offer but that's not the entire picture. It's what you believe you're worth combined your negotiation skills. As long as you have leverage and good positioning then you can make some sweet deals.


1) is this your side project or did you work full time? 2) how many years of experience do you have? 3) was it you first big project? 4) have you done previous work that exposed you to ffmpeg or similar problems? 5) what made you think this would be a good idea, does your work require you to make these often? 6) how did you stay motivated? 7) did you plan out everything, how did you refine your idea, did you start with finished mockups?

8) What's your exercise routine? 9) would you classify yourself as someone who has trouble staying motivated or focused? 10) would you classify yourself as someone with high energy? 11) would you classify yourself as someone perfectionist or do as you learn? 12) do you follow any particular diet or diet routine? 13) do you rely on coffee or supplements of any kind?

So, Adobe Spark?


OP's app looks more like Canva (https://www.canva.com, which Spark is also a copycat of), especially the icons in the left nav. The timeline view is super neat though.

To be fair, as someone who doesn't know what it is, I clicked "Watch Video" on Spark website and that video did not show me what it is and how to use the product but rather some nonsense-story. Story creator website showed me exactly how the app looks like and how to use it right away without having me to click anything. Awesome work, bookmarking it for future use!

If you scrolled down a little you'd see an H2-sized "What can you create with Adobe Spark?" and three quick overviews.

Looks great, but looking at the pricing page makes me wonder, what is this Video limit. Do I get to edit 20 videos for $19 per month, or what? Why would you limit the number of videos if storage is already limited? Maybe add little help icons next to the points that clarify the limits.

Great feedback. I think you're right it could use some more context.

I think FAQs would also be nice.

This looks awesome! One prospective customer group, I'm helping a teacher friend of mine (she teaches Y1-4) as she produces basically an episode of Playschool/Sesame Street per day to her students.

She's working in iMovie and looking to move to Final Cut Pro, specifically for better editing and effects. So this looks like an awesome halfway house.

I can also see a marketplace for templates around your editing product that would be another great sideline for creators.

Questions though about storage and video streaming. Are you offering the streaming service along with the editing?

Or is this purely the editing stage and then there's a take the raw footage and upload to somewhere like mux.com for the encoding and streaming requirements?

My contact details in my profile here, really interested in this :)

Thats really cool. I will definitely follow up.

So the videos are hosted for you and a part of the plan. I encode the video so it's supported on phones and all social media platforms.

To post on Instagram you have to download it. You can easily embed the video using the hosted link onto blogs and you can tweet the link, use the link in SMS, etc.

I'd love to help more :)

I don't see any contact info though. You can email me if you are interested michael @ storycreatorapp.com or @michaelaubry

Looking forward to it. See you on the inside!

There's a few companies already in this space, but all I'm aware of are of the "Contact our sales for pricing" type and require you to spend at least 100k annually. Many contracts go into millions - just for the apps & services, without media spend.

out of technical curiosity, how do you render the video? is the whole thing like a canvas element?

Combination of several rendering techniques.

The idea is as long as you have all the information the user wants in in each layer. Then you can do a lot of things with this understanding.

The major pieces of information you need to collect while working on a 2D plane are these.

- The x,y coords - The width and height - A path to the asset - additional properties like colors and opacity

From having this critical information stored nicely means you can email it to a graphic designer and have them decode it and follow the "map".

You can send it to a client side process and have it interpret the information.

You can send it to a server and have it interpret the information.

You can do a one shot kill and build a system that pieces them together using one approach.

You can send each layer to a different process. You can create a specialized technique for each layer type.

The key is collecting the information. The actual rendering can be done in many ways. FFMPEG, canvas, screen shots, send it to a human lol. Using OS commands, etc.

"send it to a human" lol that made me chuckle!

Thanks for explaining this in detail, Michael! Really great work here!

Haha it's all about communication. Glad you got a chuckle.

The site is fantastic. I think you have massive potential upside if this is marketed appropriately.

Do you need any help with sales and marketing? I'd be interested in having a discussion if you'd prefer to focus on building things.

Definitely. Id much rather be engineering.

Reach out to me on Twitter or email @michaelaubry michael @ storycreatorapp . com

This looks great! What stack is it built on? How long did it take you to build?

I'd love to learn about how you decided to build it, scoped out what features to build and cut, the whole behind-the-scenes. Pretty please! :D


React.js for the UI and state management. Vercel for serverless hosting and easy deployments FFMPEG for stitching Node.js on the backend handling the rendering Prisma 2 as a ORM for database interaction GraphQL to perform operations on the data

This took me longer than anticipated about 11 months.

Let me know if you have any more questions happy to answer. You can DM me on twitter @michaelaubry

I was looking for something like this last week, I will explain my problem then you can potentially add it to your backlog. I'm not sure how common this is.

I have some footage shot on my phone at 30fps and some footage shot on my cheap go-pro knock-off at 24fps. (an AKASO)

If I import them into iMovie, the frame rate gets set to whichever video is first in line, so for example the 24fps one gets blank frames inserted to match the frame rate of the first one. I downloaded openshot but the titles don't seem quite as easy as iMovie.

Best of luck with the venture!

So cool to see this on HN. I’ve used the product to make a lot of my social media posts. It’s so easy to use and makes me look like way more of a pro than I actually am. Keep up the great work!

Kyle the man. The first tester and had some UX input that was super valuable. Thanks for sharing the love.

I want to see you back on the product making more videos soon!

What kind of stack did you use for this awesome project?! I've never really known how to get started with an app like this outside of wrapping a bunch of functions around ffmpeg.

Combination of things. It's like a cake haha.

React.js FE Node.js BE

Vercel FTW

Hey, nice job! The tool looks really cool and seems like it would save a lot of time for people who are not into video editing but want to add cool effects.

All the best to you!

Yup working towards that everyday. Makes me happy. Cheers :)

Nice. The only thing that makes me hesitant to ditch Adobe subscription is After Effects. There are replacements for Photoshop, Illustrator, but not for AE.

For pro users there is a replacement for AE - check out

Davinci Resolve Fusion


And it's a perpetual license as well - useful if you prefer the older licensing model. Remember what happened to Adobe users in Venezuela.

But storycreatorapp looks great for content creators who don't have the time to learn video editing & FX and just want to get things done quickly and focus on their content. Definitely going to check it out more...

If it meets your needs then hop aboard.

I'd love to learn more about what you're working on and how you plan to use video/motion graphics.

Hit me up via email or Twitter @michaelaubry. Id love to chat.

This is really awesome. One suggestion; if you got rid of standard definition from the free plan and made it HD across the board I think it would help you in the long run from word of mouth based on the quality people see. Free version would essentially be used for word of mouth marketing so compromising quality on that could harm the brand in the long term imo. Just my two cents!

This looks amazing, well done! Really intuitive and easy to use.

A minor suggestion: the phrase "Free Demo" on the landing page sticks out to me and feels awkward. I think maybe changing it to "Try" or "Demo" would be more fitting. Adding "Free" seems unnecessary and distracting.

I also think it should be highlighted, maybe changing it to blue text. Or maybe green.

Just my opinion.

Great feedback. I had demo before some people said it made it feel like an enterprise product where demo was booking a sales demo. So I tried to make it clear it wasnt that.

Maybe try sample or something could be more fitting.

What do you think?

I agree that "Demo" does make it seem like more of an enterprise application. I got a similar feeling about "Free Demo" and, to me, it felt like it cheapened the product.

I've played around with different words and phrases, and I think matching your other buttons actually works the best. I took two screenshots, one title case and one sentence case. I like sentence case but it's inconsistent with your "Sign Up" button.

Screenshots: https://imgur.com/a/1o07pp7

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